Miss Universe owner JKN Global Group has confirmed that next week’s pageant will go ahead, despite the Thai company filing for bankruptcy.
The media distribution company, which bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million in 2022, announced Thursday that it had filed a petition for “corporate rehabilitation” which was accepted by the Thai bankruptcy court.
In a statement posted on its website, JKN said providing a “premium experience” for Miss Universe fans “will remain a top priority” ahead of next Saturday’s finale. The company said it was confident its new financial arrangements “will support all of the company’s business operations, including Miss Universe.”
Led by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender rights advocate and star of Thai versions of reality shows such as “Project Runway,” JKN said last year it planned to grow the Miss Universe organization by expanding into Asia and launching branded products.
Filing for bankruptcy does not necessarily mean that a business is about to go out of business. Many large companies used bankruptcy filings as a tool to shed debts and costs they could no longer afford.
JKN, which raised funds through bonds to purchase Miss Universe, missed a September 1 repayment deadline for a loan of approximately $12 million. In its filing, the company said it plans to restructure its debt and extend the repayment period to overcome its challenges. called a “liquidity problem”.
In a press conference at the time, Jakkaphong said market conditions, including high inflation, made it difficult for the company to refinance its debt.
Jakkaphong, who has spoken openly about her experiences as a trans woman, took over as Miss Universe – one of the world’s most-watched beauty pageants – as she banked on growing calls for greater diversity and inclusiveness.
This year’s pageant will feature two trans women for the first time: Marina Machete, a 23-year-old flight attendant who was crowned Miss Portugal last month, and Rikkie Kollé, who became the first transgender to win the title of Miss Netherlands in July.
“Trans women are women, period,” the Miss Universe organization told CNN last month, after Miss Portugal was crowned. “We are here to celebrate women, period. This has been true for over a decade and we are proud to have made this change early, compared to other programs.
Evert Elzinga/ANP/AFP/Getty Images
Contestant Rikkie Kolle is set to compete in the Miss Universe final after becoming the first trans woman to win the Miss Netherlands beauty pageant in July.
If either candidate wins, they will become the first trans woman to wear the tiara.
In 2018, Spaniard Ángela Ponce was the first trans contestant in the competition, but did not qualify for the final.
Miss Universe, which has been running since 1952, scores contestants based on personal statements, in-depth interviews and evening gown and swimsuit competitions.
This year’s final in El Salvador will see nearly 90 women from around the world compete for the crown.
JKN Global Group did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.